The shop I once worked at, Ammirati & Puris, was started by three guys in the Delmonico Hotel, with one client, Burials at Sea (yes, it's true). A year in, on the verge of dissolution, Martin Puris traveled to Germany and returned home with a car account. The client was BMW; the car was the model 2002. Thirty-five years later, “The Ultimate Driving Machine” has ascended to tagline heaven, with the once-great-now-defunct Ammirati remembered with enormous respect and affection.
The point of the story: there isn't an agency on the planet that can afford to ignore the importance of new business. For some agencies, winning is literally a matter of survival.
If you work in an agency, you pretty much know what I am about to share with you. The fact is, the agency you're at didn't become the agency it is by failing at new business. You've won clients by being persuasive about strategy, by merchandising ideas that are compelling, and by articulating a work process that makes sense. If anything, what follows will serve more as confirmation, and less as revelation.
If, however, you are new to the business, some of what I share should be helpful.
Let's start with a definition. Even better, two definitions: (1) what new business is to an agency, and (2) what new business is to a client: